We get into the relaxed and slow pace of the canal.
|Date:||Monday, June 18, 2007|
|Weather:||Warm and sunny|
|Distance:||18 miles by water|
|Elevation:||320.7 feet above Great Lakes Datum|
We have a very leisurely and slow paced morning. The lock opens at 8:30 a.m., and they are willing to immediately cycle us up, as we are the first boat in line. However, we defer, saying we are not quite ready to go. There is a just-arrived boat heading down, and we pass on our option and let him go ahead. This means at least a 45-minute wait before we can pass upbound through the locks.
Around 10:00 a.m. we push off from the BLUE line wharf and head into the lower chamber of Jones Falls lock station. We get a swift passage, and soon we are raised 59-feet in the stair step of the multi-chamber lock. Once above the lock, we tie up to the GRAY line wharf, and return to explore more of the facilities and grounds.
We visit the lockmaster's house, also a fortified building, but not quite on the scale of the blockhouse at Kingston Mills. The stone house occupies the top of the tallest hill in the vicinity, giving it an excellent view for observation of any approaching enemy troops. The interior of the house is completely furnished with accurate period items. Thanks to a diary kept by the lockmaster and a very good docent (guide), we get an excellent sense of what life was like here in the 1830's. They seemed to drink quite a bit back then.
Next we descend the hill to the blacksmith shop, where we enjoy an excellent demonstration of the blacksmith's art at the forge. Using bituminous coal to heat the metal, the smithy fashions all sorts of useful components and devices as we and several other land-based tourists watch.
Finally we hike over to the large dam, again build as part of the canal construction. Its main wall is stone masonry, all original from 1832. The dam was the largest in North America when it was completed.
The Jones Falls lock station is a treat in itself, a wonderful place to explore and learn the history of the Rideau Canal. It is an integral part of the experience of transiting the waterway, something special not to be rushed through.
Our stay at Jones Falls complete, we get back to the boat and cast off for a slow passage through The Quarters and into Sand Lake.
Sand Lake is a fairly large and deep lake, and its shore has attracted many cottagers. We get a chance for several miles of high-speed run, passing close abeam at a turning mark with a pontoon boat headed the other way. In a few minutes we drop off plane and coast into Davis Lock's BLUE line wharf. Another boat is just locking down, and we have a very brief delay.
Davis Lock is a single chamber with only a modest 9-foot lift. After locking through we tie up for lunch above the lock along their 200-foot floating dock. Chris makes another excellent sandwich, and we enjoy lunch in the solitude; no other boats pass through. The lockmaster's house here is also intact, but it is not open or its interior restored. It is another beautiful stone masonry building from the 1830's. After a short hike around the grounds we are underway, out into Opinicon Lake, and then across the shoals of Murphy's Bay and on to Chaffeys Lock.
The miter doors are open for us and we cruise right into the lock chamber, where we are lifted 11-feet. Above the lock we stop for fuel at Brown's Marina. We take on 55-liters (14.5-gallons) of gasoline at a cost of $67.60 (CA-$1.229 per liter). After fueling is completed, we hunt down owner Dave Brown for a gam. We've known him for years from his participation in internet boating discussions (USENET's rec.boats), so we want to meet him face to face. We pass away a few minutes in conversation about web sites and web personalities we've known, and get a tour of his store and repair shop. He's a busy fellow with the boating season just hitting its stride in these parts, so we don't keep him from his work too long.
The weather is very warm, about 88-degrees, and the sun is bright in a clear sky. After a narrow passage above Chaffeys Lock we transit Indian Lake, and then through another very narrow passage we enter Clear Lake. Clear Lake is over 100-feet deep, and as its name implies, its water is very clear and relatively free of weeds. There is barely a ripple of breeze on the surface of the water, so we just stop and drift for a 30-minute swim around the boat in the southeast corner of the lake. The water temperature is a balmy 79-degrees, quite a bit warmer than the Great Lakes water we normally swim in. Refreshed, we resume our passage, taking Elbow Channel into Newboro Lake. Again we can run on plane for a couple of miles, and we soon arrive at our next lock.
Newboro Lock is a bit of an oddity: it has been modernized to operate with electro-hydraulic power. After a brief wait for other boats cycling down, we are quickly lifted 8-feet. The lockmaster explains that this is one of the busiest locks on the system, and that was the motivation for the modernization. The difference is subtle--you just don't see the canal men cranking the miter doors open and closed or raising or lowering the gate valves. Above the lock we enter a narrow cut in the granite. This is one portion of the waterway which was entirely artificial, created by blasting of the rocky earth for about 3/4-mile. The hard rock proved more difficult to remove than first thought, and ultimately the canal depth was increased not by digging deeper but by raising the level of Rideau Lake, now cut into two parts by an intervening lock station at the narrows.
Above Newboro Lock a significant change takes place: we are at the summit of the water way, 407 feet above Great Lakes datum. Now all of our lock transits will be descending. And to mark the change, the orientation of the red/green lateral buoys flips. From here on it will red on the left, as we are going out to sea. I exchange the red and green tape reminders on the helm to match the new orientation.
We enjoy a four mile run at high speed, taking a hard left turn and heading a bit off the main path to our destination, Westport, a small town at the northwest tip of Upper Rideau Lake.
We idle into the municipal dock at Westport, and the harbourmaster comes out to greet us and take our lines. The harbor has been created by an offshore island, connected to the mainland with a walkway bridge. We settle in for the evening. The showers are on the mainland, about a block from the bridge. It is a bit of walk for a middle of the night visit, but the facilities are nice. We don't need a shower as we just had that swim in Clear Lake. We move off the boat and over to a picnic table with sun awning for a late afternoon cocktail hour.
Around 7 p.m. we strike off into town. We are a bit disappointed that the SALMON HOUSE & SEAFOOD restaurant is closed today (Monday)--it looks like a great place to eat. We have been somewhat surprised that there has not been more local fish available at the restaurants. So far we have not found any. We don't seem inclined for a long walk to dinner, so we head for REMY'S PUB, just half a block away. There we have a very nice dinner on the outdoor patio, beer and burger for me, while Chris has something more exotic. Spend the extra dollar and get the sweet potato french fries; they're the best we've ever had. After dinner we check out the closed shops on the main street, planing ahead for tomorrow's shopping.
Back at the boat, we have no problem getting to sleep. However, this end of the lake is a bit shallow and boggy, and we do notice a few mosquitos are out.
Here are the sailing data from today:
Instrument data: ENGINE HOURS = 0332.3 GALLONS REMAINING = 25.4 (includes 14.5 added) LOG = 49.3 miles Today's increments: HOURS = 3.4 GALLONS = 11 MILES = 18 Today's averages: GPH = 3.24 MPH = 5.30 MPG = 1.64
The nine-day narrative continues in Day Four.
Copyright © 2007 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!
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Author: James W. Hebert
This article first appeared July, 2007.